Advanced Design Studio: Cure/Penabad

Project Description

Thinking of the possible future of Havana, there is a distinct possibility that loosening government control could bring new investment and development to the historic districts of the city.  As is typical of many historic city centers, the existing grain does not coincide with contemporary development standards.  Central Havana consists mostly of thin lots which pose challenges for new housing.  Rather than capitulate to the often detrimental concept of merging multiple lots, this proposal challenges the current building codes in order to preserve the existing grain of Central Havana while exploring modern housing types.  Following the current code regulations for this typically small lot, a building with 12 units at minimum square footages and no provision for outdoor space is possible. As an alternative, this tower challenges the code-mandated height limit of five stories and consists of 10 (relatively) large units with 17% of the building reserved for public and private outdoor space.

Two aspects of working in Havana drive the design: taking advantage of the pool of highly skilled local craftsmen, and finding a way to build appropriately in light of the tropical climate. The government supported restoration efforts in Havana have created a strong pool of workers skilled in traditional building crafts and the use of traditional materials such as tile, stone, and wood. The building materials are chosen based on this reality. A concrete frame clad in tile, which can resist the corrosive sea air, is filled with operable wooden louvers and screens which can be replaced as needed. Caribbean examples of intelligent climatic design exhibit lightness, transparency, permeable envelopes, and the generation of shade.  Applying lessons from tropical dwellings to a tower form, this proposal includes a shifted sectional diagram to promote cooling by increasing the amount of building envelope as well as shade the private patios, plenum spaces on each floor to naturally vent hot air, a roof canopy, and louvers to shield the interior from the sun.